Rash of ski thefts prompts warning

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— On Monday morning, Conor McGreal felt the anguish and frustration that has plagued other ski and snowboard riders this week.

McGreal and his neighbor became victims of a crime that happens all too often during the ski season ski and snowboard thefts.

"It is a shame this had to happen in such a great town," McGreal said after his $400 snowboard was stolen. "I really liked the board. It is really a bummer because it is just the start of the season."

In the first week that followed the Steamboat Ski Area's Nov. 30 opening, not a single ski or snowboard were reported stolen.

But since Sunday, four snowboards have been reported stolen along with two pairs of skis. The most recent theft occurred Wednesday evening when skis were stolen from Gondola Square.

"This is something that happens every year," Steamboat Springs Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said. "This happens in every ski town. It is too bad there are thieves out there, but people have to protect their property.

"Skis are too expensive to leave that kind of property sitting around. If it is left out, there is a good chance it will get stolen."

McGreal and his neighbor left their snowboards perched on a ski rack above a Jeep parked outside their apartment on Weiss Drive. The snowboards were locked and secured in the rack.

"Whoever stole the snowboards knew what they were doing," McGreal said. "They were able to break the lock."

The rash of thefts started on Sunday afternoon when a resident on Cedar Court reported two snowboards stolen. Monday, skis and a snowboard were stolen from a vehicle parked in the 1800 block of Ski Time Square Drive.

Fiebing said the best way to protect ski and snowboards is to keep them out of sight.

"Equipment should be kept out of view," Fiebing said. "They should be kept locked inside vehicles and stored in your house or garage."

Fiebing also urges skiers and snowboarders to lock their equipment up when they stop for lunch or a break while on the slopes.

"There are lockers at the mountain," he said. "If you leave equipment outside of a restaurant, you are asking for trouble."

These thefts are also difficult to solve. "The equipment is usually sold in another area or sold to a private person," Fiebing said. "But we will do some stings throughout the season."

As the season progresses, people get better at securing their equipment, Fiebing said.

"People get smarter as the season goes on," he said. "But visitors need to be aware this happens. This is the best way for a person to ruin a vacation."

To replace his snowboard, McGreal is going through his insurance company. "I have been riding a (demonstration) board," said McGreal who moved to Steamboat from Pennsylvania last June. "I hope to have my new board by next week.

"This is a great town, but it is disappointing when one or two people have to ruin it."

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